Scaling your sycamore

I am awful with dates. I just can’t keep the grid of a calendar straight in my head and constantly get mixed up. Last week, I thought I was due to write this email and had planned to write a bunch of reflective questions about Zaccheus, of all things. Then Alison happened to tell me that my turn to write wasn’t for another week, and that her message on Sunday would be a bunch of reflective questions about Zaccheus, of all things. Times like these I can only conclude that the Spirit is trying to say something and it pays to listen up. Continue reading “Scaling your sycamore”

Prayer, pride and prejudice

It takes deep humility to receive God’s grace. (Listen.)

As Jane Austen didn’t quite say, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a good fortune … needs absolutely nothing from God.” I regularly hear people tell me that their sickness and their sorrow is not worth praying about; let God first attend to other people’s need. While this all sounds very noble, as if God is a limited resource which must be carefully rationed, it strikes me that at least two things are wrong with this attitude. Continue reading “Prayer, pride and prejudice”

Almost everything we do at church you can do at home, with one important exception

On Sunday we worshipped by walking. Several of us blessed the earth beneath our feet; others walked the prayer labyrinth; still others went on a reflective neighbourhood stroll (which I will describe here at a later date). Afterwards, someone said, “You don’t need to be at church to do this: you could do these walks anywhere,” to which I replied, “Yes! Absolutely yes! And that’s true of most of what we do here.” Continue reading “Almost everything we do at church you can do at home, with one important exception”

Ask, seek and knock for the presence of the Holy Spirit. And that’s it.

Many believe that prayer is a transaction between ‘good’ people and God; but is this what Jesus is really on about? (Listen.)

An old friend of ours, Monique Lisbon, once wrote a satirical song with a chorus that goes like this: God can’t keep track of the human race / when everyone’s praying for a parking space. The song is her response to those Christians who quite literally ask God for everything: personal prosperity, a perfect spouse, a big house in a nice suburb, and a parking space right outside the front. Jesus says, “Ask, and you shall receive,” and so they ask, and ask, and ask some more: for the verse has been widely interpreted to mean that God is a fairy godmother just waiting to reward our earnest prayers by granting our heart’s desire. Continue reading “Ask, seek and knock for the presence of the Holy Spirit. And that’s it.”

Taking on the mantle

Just as Elisha’s glimpse of God’s reality enables him to take on the prophet’s mantle, our glimpses of God’s kingdom empower us to become disciples. (Listen.)

I’m going to let you in on a secret: There are times when I hate being a grown up. Sure, I get to drive and spend money; but if I make a mess, I have to clean it up. When I drop something on the floor, I have to pick it up. If I do something wrong, I have to put it right. If I’m hungry, I have to cook; if I’m bored, I have to find something to do; if I’m lonely, I have to arrange a playdate; if I’m tired, I have to put myself to bed. When I see a job that needs to be done, it’s usually me that needs to do it. I know I look reasonably competent, but half the time I’m just bumbling around, trying to work out how to serve the church or write a sermon or love my enemy or do any of the other things I’m supposed to do. There are days when I wish a great big mother would drop down out of the sky and clean up my messes, bake me a plum cake, and tell me what to do. Continue reading “Taking on the mantle”

Radiating resurrection

Peter raises Tabitha: for Christ lives on in his disciples. (Listen.)

How long, O Lord, must we wait? How long until a saviour comes and sweeps through this nation, and puts everything right? How long until the corrupt are thrown out of power, the violent are contained, the poor are cared for, and the earth is restored? How long until political leaders show compassion? How long until religious leaders repent for the damage they have done? How long until asylum seekers are freed from detention? How long until children in foster care find stable healthy homes? How long until Australia’s First Peoples receive recognition and justice? How long, O Lord, must we wait? Continue reading “Radiating resurrection”

#40: Receive spiritual power: #40ways40days

[After the resurrection] Jesus opened his disciples’ minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’ Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. (Luke 24:44-50)

 You should not wait until God comes to you

and says, ‘I am.’

A God whose strength is vouched for, proved,

is senseless, mad.

Yet you must know, though, that God blows through you

since time began,

and when your heart glows warm and remains true,

He works His plan. Continue reading “#40: Receive spiritual power: #40ways40days”

#37: Expect apocalypse: #40ways40days

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’ (Luke 21:25-28)

When I started in Year 7 it was a bit of a shock to go from Primary School where we all did all our work together as one class in the same classroom to High School where each subject was in a different room with a different teacher and I did not know many other kids at the school. I found it extremely daunting to look at the year 12’s and I thought that I would never be able to pass Year 12 as the work was so hard. This was what terrified me and gave me anguish. Continue reading “#37: Expect apocalypse: #40ways40days”

#35: Welcome children: #40ways40days

People were bringing even children to Jesus that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ (Luke 18:15-17)

Reflection 1: As a child, I have nearly always been a part of the congregation at church. I can recall at South Yarra when the adult congregation first acted upon Jesus’ instruction to ‘let the little children come to him’, however I think that I remember being intensely bored the first time we were brought into the service. I didn’t really understand church politics and I hadn’t read the bible, being about 4 years old, but I thought it was good to be a part of the service as I felt like one of the big kids, a stage I’m sure every child can relate to. Continue reading “#35: Welcome children: #40ways40days”

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